'Tasteful' cosmopolitanism - food, consumption and cultural distinction in an ethnic greengrocer in Copenhagen

Maja de Neergaard

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Based on an ethnographic study in a Lebanese greengrocer in Nørrebro in central Copenhagen, the paper asks about the nature of everyday cosmopolitan culture, as it gets performed through food consumption. The field study shows examples of a transcultural multi-culture among both customers and staff. It also shows examples of how the senses – especially odour and taste – play a role in the development of a convivial metropolitan culture (Rhys-Taylor 2013). However, there are also examples that suggest a type of corner-shop cosmopolitanism (Wessendorf 2010) where, at the end of the day, cultures remain mosaic and separate. Following this, the paper asks if there is a critical backside to everyday cosmopolitanism. Drawing on Bourdieu’s notion of distinction (1979), which he uses to show how culture and consumption continuously contribute to the reproduction of modern society’s class system, the paper shows examples of how middleclass cosmopolitan food consumption can indeed be regarded as means of white middleclass cultural distinction. The argument is, that even if everyday cosmopolitanism does, on the one hand, allow for diversity training and the diminishing of cultural difference it might also work quite oppositely in everyday performances where it is used as a means to stand out and signal confidence with cultural difference while consequently reproducing the exact same differences and maintaining social/class hierarchies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event7th Nordic Geographers Meeting: Geographies of inequalities - Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 18 Jun 201721 Jun 2017
Conference number: 7
http://www.humangeo.su.se/english/ngm-2017

Conference

Conference7th Nordic Geographers Meeting
Number7
LocationStockholm University
Country/TerritorySweden
CityStockholm
Period18/06/201721/06/2017
OtherUnderstanding spatial differences lies at the heart of geographical research. Inherit to this is the analytical focus of spatial and social injustices – and the ways in which inequality take place at global and local levels of analysis. These have been important research questions regardless of scientific traditions and paradigms since the birth of modern geography.<br/><br/>The topic for the 7th Nordic Geographers Meeting is: Where are we now? What are the important challenges we have to deal with today? What kinds of spatial and social differences are the most urgent to try to understand? Do we have operational concepts for analyzing today’s inequalities or do we need conceptual improvements? Do we have the methodological tools or is there a need for new approaches?<br/>
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